Paddy Wagons on the March

Paddy Wagons on the March
Authorities in Crimea plan to fully brace themselves for a provocative march the extremist organization calling itself the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People (banned in Russia by a ruling of the Supreme Court) has announced for the 2020 May holidays. The organizers plan to break through into Crimea through Chongar, an area offering the easiest access to the Crimean Peninsula from the territory of Ukraine.

Refat Chubarov, the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, which is banned in

Russia as an extremist organization, has made public its plans to steer an amassed breakthrough of the Ukrainian-Russian border at the Chongar border checkpoint. He is said in an interview with Ukraine’s 5 Kanal TV that participants in the action would not use violent methods and their march would be called upon to show disagreement with Crimea’s status of a constituent region of the Russia Federation.

Chubarov did not rule out the use of force in the process of breaking through the border, however. Apart from the activists of the Mejlis, some deputies of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada and representatives of Western countries may join the march, too, Chubarov said. He refrained from specifying the names and official positions of the latter.

First reports of Mejlis’s plans to organize a breakthrough into Crimea from across the Ukrainian-Russian border appeared in December. The provisional codename of the action is “The World against Violence and Occupation. A Dignity March.” Chubarov explained for it by saying the organizers hoped that delegates of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and NATO officials would join it.

In the meantime, Vladimir Dzhabarov, a deputy chief of the foreign policy committee in the upper house of Russian parliament told RBC Chubarov’s plan is a sheer provocation. He said he feels confident the march will flop. Officials in Crimea itself, too, call on the residents of the territory to abstain the action. Eivaz Umerov, the chairman of the regional national cultural autonomy of the Crimean Tatars told RIA news agency Mejlis had found itself on the roadside of political life and was trying to reaffirm its existence by staging radical actions.

Umerov is convinced that influential Ukrainian politicians will join the march. He reminds in this connection that all participants in it will face responsibility for violating Russia's state border. Umerov believes that in order to put their political ambitions into practice, the organizers of the rally will be ready to sacrifice human lives.

The march on Crimea is a token of Mejlis’s political deficiency, believes Ruslan Balbek, the representative of the Republic of Crimea in the State Duma. The plan has surfaced against the backdrop of despair among Mejlis leaders. Chubarov and his parners have fallen out of favor with Kiev and the incumbent Ukrainian leadership has cut off financial assistance to the useless organization.

Crimean officials are not scared by Chubarov’s plans, as the Ukrainian politicians have more than once made public their designs to break through the Ukrainian-Russian border but none of the projects have ever been impelmented. Hardly anyone except Chubarov and his immediate associates will take part in the march on Crimea and the action itself will most likely be limited by a megaphone-amplified speech by the Mejlis leader, who will remain on the Ukrainian territory. But no one will hear him, and no one is actually willing to listen to him, Balbek said in conclusion.

Natalya Poklonskaya, a State Duma deputy for Crimea, called on the Crimean law enforcement agencies to get ready for tackling Mejlis-organized provocations. She proposed to welcome the marchers with paddy wagons decorated with toy baloons. Then the marchers should be taken by the very same police vehicles on a tour of Crimea. Speaking seriously, there will be no breaking through the border, and the marchers will instead hold some meaningless manipulations near it, Poklonskaya believes.

Another deputy representing Crimea in the State Duma, Andrei Kozenko hailed the idea of welcoming the marchers with paddy wagons. He said they should be placed to comfortable special vehicles fitted out with rooftop lights, which will take them from the border right away to the pretrial detention center in Simferopol, the regional capital. Since the Crimean authorities have long initiated criminal cases against the Mejlis leaders, attention to participants in the march will thus be guaranteed.

Sergei Tsekov, who represents Crimea in the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, points out Chubarov’s desire to draw the attention of Western organizations that espouse the anti-Russian views, saying it is the main objective of the proposed action, as provocations have always been Chubarov’s political hallmark.

Chief of the Committee for Tourism, Resorts and Sports at the State Council (regional legislature) of Crimea, Alexei Chernyak, also believes Chubarov expects to receive funding with the aid of the declared action. For this purpose, the Mejlis leader will stick to the tactics under the provisional codename "the brave rabbit". But the campaign conceived by Chubarov will not be able to disrupt the holiday season in Crimea, Chernyak assured.

Crimea's Governor Sergei Aksenov said earlier that Chubarov and the like-minded people would at the very best get into neutral zone on the border, after which the republic's authorities would use all necessary resources to rebuff a breakthrough. There will be no "Mejlis" march on the territory of the republic, he warned.